How to get your company to fund your development

Mark Freire

27th March 2017

One of the key reasons people quit their jobs is lack of personal development and career opportunity. In most cases, it is not the company’s intention to stifle employees’ ambition or curtail their progress. It is simply that too many companies don’t have an effective system for recognising and funding training and development.

So what do you do if your company is failing in its duty to support your development?

What if there is training which would benefit you, but no clear budget to fund it? Well, before you move on, here are some key tips on taking the initiative and persuading your employer to help you move up.

Be clear about your ambitions

While it is always easy to point the finger at managers who fail to recognise their staff’s talents, in many cases it is employees themselves who don’t clearly communicate their career ambitions and training needs.

Your future at the company should always be an openly discussed topic with your manager and if they fail to regularly bring up your development, then you should. By making sure your aspirations are clearly communicated to your manager or the HR department on an ongoing basis, it will never be a surprise when you ask the company to help take your skills to the next level.

Isolate your skill requirements

How do you know what skills you need to take you forward? You can start by looking at the requirements for jobs at the next level up from yours. A search on any good job board will bring up a whole list of roles, and each will include a summary of the skills and behaviours needed for that job. After reading a few, you should have a good idea of what the market’s key requirements are to move up a level.

Be aware of timing

In most businesses, there are times of the year when a company are happy to invest and other times when cost-control is a prime concern. This varies from company to company, but from the general mood and optimism of managers you should be able to work out when might be the right, or wrong time, to make a request.

Research your options

There are many different ways to upskill. While many people will instantly jump to attending an external training course (usually the most expensive option), it is worth looking at alternative options which might be more likely to get your company’s approval and funding. ‘Learn from home’ and online course options are usually more cost effective and can fit easily around your existing work.

Put together a proposal

Putting a brief proposal together outlining your training requirements can show you’re serious about improving your skills as well as the advantages it will offer your company. It is easy for a manager to dodge or delay a verbal request for ‘more training’, but a specific proposal will mean the company will have to formally respond with a clear yes/no answer on supporting you.

Any proposal should include;

  • A reminder of your position at the company, and your achievements to date.
  • An outline of the training you propose, and why you have chosen this training option.
  • How this training will help the company commercially (i.e. better customer support, new product development, more secure systems, reinforce overstretched parts of the business etc.)
  • The cost of the training, any out-of-office time required and your preferred timelines.

Be prepared to commit

Any company investing in your development will want to know they are going to get a return on that investment – especially if you have not been at the business long. This often means reassuring them that you are committed and will not take your new-found skills out to a competitor.

If your company are reluctant to invest in your training, then be open to suggesting a compromise which demonstrates your commitment and will reduce their risk.

Common options are;

  • For the company to fund training, you will have to pay back the costs if you leave within one or two years of completion.
  • For the company to fund training, you agree to teach these new skills on to more junior members of staff at the company.
  • For you to fund the training personally, but it is paid back to you through payroll over an agreed period.
  • For you to fund the training, but the company commit to a clear development plan and salary rise to take effect over an agreed period.

Once your company is satisfied that you are there to stay, committing to a reasonable budget will be easier.

Educate yourself about Apprenticeship-funded training

In May of 2017 the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced, as a new tax for large companies which can only be reclaimed through investing in Apprenticeship training programmes. While you might not think you would be eligible to be put on an Apprenticeship Programme to fund your training, many organisations are using their levy funding to upskill existing employees. So keep an open-mind about Apprenticeships and you could get new training and certifications supported by your company and the government.

As the desire to keep key staff grows, more companies than ever are looking at different ways of training and developing their staff. By being proactive about your development you can make sure you become part of the movement towards an upskilled workforce.

For more information about using your companies levy funding to upskill yourself, speak to one of our levy experts.